Many older people experience problems that threaten their autonomy, dignity, income, rights, and security, according to a report from the Division of Aging and adult services, state of Utah. The article appeared in this month's Carbon county Senior Citizen's newsletter. It points out that many of these problems can be avoided or remedied by legal intervention.
Sometimes older persons may not realize the problem they are facing is a legal one. Other times, an older person and or a caregiver may know he or she needs a lawyer's help, but doesn't know how to get a lawyer, or is afraid of the cost of a lawyer.
Legal assistance is available to persons in Utah 60 years of age of older, according to the article. Legal help is available even if the senior is homebound or in a nursing home or hospital. Whenever possible, legal services will be provided free of charge and in a language that can be understood. Most importantly, the legal services provider will represents the senior's interests.
According to Viki Bowman, executive director of the local senior center, the most often asked question is how to find a private attorney for seniors.
Private attornies provide legal services for all types of legal issues at a cost to the client. If someone does not have a lawyer, they are encouraged to get recommendations for good ones from trusted friends and relatives. The article encourages seniors to interview the lawyer and not to be afraid to ask him or her how much they charge and what they will do for the situation. People who don't know how to find a lawyer but believe they have the mnoney to pay for one should contact the Lawyer Referrral Servoices pf the Utah State Bar. this service provides names of private lawyers who handle cases for a fee. They can be reached at 801-531-9077 or 1-800-698-9077. their website is www.utahbar.org.
Bowman also pointed out in the article that help is available by contacting their local Area Agency on Aging for information on the legal services providers in this area. Outside Utah the number is 1-800-677-1116 or on the website at www.eldercare.gov. for information on locating the closest Area Agency on Aging on the website for the United States Administration on Aging people should go to www.aog.gov. or contact the local center at 637-4268.
Free legal services for certain civil matters are available to persons 60 years of age and older through Utah Legal Services throughout most of the state. ULS also handles certain civil matters for low-income persons of all ages throughout the state. If ULS is unable to handle a case, it provides useful referrals. Statewide intake is available in English and Spanish. This office is located in Provo and can be reached by calling 801-374-6766 or toll free at 1-800-662-1563.
The Olders American Act, a federal law, requires states and Area Agencies on Aging to make legal assistance available to persons 60 years of age and older, and in particular, to those in greatest social and economic need. Legal assistance is a service provided through Utah's 12 area agencies on aging together with a network of legal service providers throughut Utah. Services are often limited due to funding restrictions.
Legal assistance provided through the program typically address the following types of cases: age discrimination, consumer fraud, domestic relations, estate planning, some trusts, simple estates, grandparents' rights, guardianship, power of attorney, surrogate decision making issues, medicate, medicaid, other insurance issues, home ownership, housing, landlord and tenant issues, income protection, social security, veterans benefits, food stamps, other government benefits and assisted living issues.
Free information is available by going to the website: www.hsdaas.utah.gov. Internet access is available at the Senior Center in Price by calling 637-5080.